In The News

Experiment to expose temperate forest to elevated CO2 levels for 10 years

In a first-of-its-kind experiment, scientists from the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research are exposing a mature, temperate forest to predicted future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, New Scientist reported . The Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment experiment, also known as FACE, will help researchers better understand the long-term effects of carbon dioxide on woodland environments. Using biomedical technology, genomic analysis and a host of sensors, the researchers will study a forest under the conditions expected at the end of the 21st century. The experiment is set to run for 10 years, but could be expanded if the findings are significant. Image: Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania ( Credit: Nicholas A.

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As Arctic oil exploration expands, study warns of spill potential

As warming global temperatures push Arctic sea ice further and further north, oil companies have begun eying the region and its oil reserves estimated at 90 billion barrels. A study by the World Wildlife Fund projected that an oil spill or oil well blowout in the Arctic could spread more than 1,000 kilometers, Reuters reported . Working with RPS Applied Science Associates, the WWF modeled 22 oil spill scenarios to determine affected areas, shoreline impact and potential effects on nearby ecosystems. The study modeled shipping spills and well blowouts in deep and shallow water. Oil companies such as Conoco Phillips and Statoil have already examined the Arctic for drilling operations. Royal Dutch Shell ceased its Arctic drilling program when its drilling rig ran aground in 2012.

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School of Ants project shows citizen scientist data is up to snuff

When it comes to ants, myrmecologists know the best techniques to capture them. To draw them in, cookies are used as bait. But not just any cookie will do. It has to be a pecan sandie. “There’s a historical reason. Pecan sandies have been used for a long time in myrmecology (the study of ants),” said Andrea Lucky, assistant research scientist in the department of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida. The common shortbread cookie is essentially the perfect food to attract them because it hits all of what ants might be needing in their diet at a given time: protein, fat, salt or sugar. Lucky has seen a lot of pecan sandies in her time. “One of these days, I should get in touch with the Keebler company to see if they’ll sponsor a student,” said Lucky.

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